ILLINOIS STATE ARCHIVES
Illinois Servitude and Emancipation Records (1722–1863)
This database includes approximately 3,400 names found in governmental records involving the servitude and emancipation of Africans and, occasionally, Indians in the French and English eras of colonial Illinois (1722–1790) and African-Americans in the American period of Illinois (1790–1863). The Archives extracted the names of servants, slaves, or free persons and masters, witnesses, or related parties from selected governmental records to produce this database. After searching the database, researchers can see an abstract of the record by clicking the record number of the appropriate entry. Currently the following records are included in this database:
- Bond County — Board of Supervisors' Minutes, 1817
- Edwards County — Servitude and Emancipation Record, 1815–1860
- Gallatin County — Servitude Register, 1815–1839
- Madison County — Servitude and Emancipation Register, 1805–1826; Emancipation Registers, 1830–1860
- Massac County — Emancipation Register, 1849–1855
- Pope County — Servitude Register, 1816–1819
- Randolph County — Record Book 1, 1736–1782; Deed Record J-M, 1797–1815; Servitude and Emancipation Registers, 1809–1863; Kaskaskia Manuscripts, 1714–1816
- St. Clair County — Registre of Insinuations, 1737–1769; Record of Auction of Charleville Estate, 1782; Deed Record A-C, 1790-1796, 1800–1813; Servitude Register, 1805-1832, 1846–1863; Slave Registration Files, 1807–1849; Emancipation Register, 1812–1843
- Union County — Emancipation Register, 1835–1844
- U.S. General Land Office, Kaskaskia District — Board of Commissioners Transcripts of Documents Collected, 1722–1814
- Publications — Alvord, Clarence Walworth, ed. Cahokia Records, 1778–1790. Springfield: Illinois State Historical Library, 1907; Norton, Margaret Cross, ed. Illinois Census Returns, 1810,1818. Springfield: Illinois State Historical Library, 1935; ______, ed. Illinois Census Returns, 1820. Springfield: Illinois State Historical Library, 1934.
The following list provides brief descriptions of the kinds of documents involving servitude and emancipation found in the records listed above:
- Bill of Sale — Bills of sale record the sale, trade, or transfer of Negro and Indian slaves through private sales and public auctions.
- Birth — Although birth records were not usually kept for slaves or indentured servants, the recording of birth information was sometimes coincidental with the creation of other types of records.
- Census — Information is included from the Illinois censuses for 1810, 1818, and 1820 for slaves and free persons of color.
- Divorce — This divorce settlement grants female slave, Hannah, to the wife.
- Donation — During the French colonial period in Illinois, notaries recorded donations or gifts of property and chattels, given upon marriage or certain other occasions, often with legal conditions attached.
- Emancipation — Emancipation records include both manumissions and evidences or affidavits of freedom.
- Estate — Records of the settlement of estates often involved the sale or disposition of slaves or servants.
- Guardianship — These records involve the appointment of a guardian for minors.
- Indenture — Indentures record agreements between masters and servants for periods from 1 to 99 years.
- Inventory — The inventories of the estates of deceased French slaveholders often listed the slaves belonging to the deceased.
- Lease — French slaveholders sometimes leased the services of their slaves at public auction or by private contract.
- Marriage — Slaves occasionally appeared in French marriage contracts. A few marriages were recorded for Negroes in the records indexed for this database.
- Mortgage – French slaveholders occasionally mortgaged slaves.
- Other — Records falling into this miscellaneous category include financial items, such as receipts, contracts, agreements, and debts; records of runaway slaves; and court records concerning slaves charged with various crimes.
- Registration — Beginning in 1805, persons transporting Negroes or mulattoes into the Indiana Territory were required to register them with the clerk of the court of Common Pleas. In 1809 the Illinois Territory, created from the western portion of the Indiana Territory, adopted Indiana territorial law.
- Will — Slaves and free Negroes were mentioned occasionally in wills.
For an unofficial and uncertified copy of the original or published record, please provide the following information: name of county; servant or slave, and other party; date of entry; and file, volume and/or page number of record. Many of the documents, especially for the colonial period, fail to give any name or only provide a given name for the slave or servant. For those documents lacking the slave's or servant's name, the researcher can locate an entry if the name of the owner, witness or related party is known. As a result of limitations on staff research time, the Archives can do no more than two name searches per request. If you would like an unofficial and uncertified copy of the record, please include your mailing address. Please contact:
Illinois State Archives
Margaret Cross Norton Building
Springfield, Illinois 62756
Submit a Request Via the Internet